5 things to know about FDA process to authorize COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11

FDA panel scheduled to meet Oct. 26 to go over data

San Antonio Pediatric Pulmonologist reacts to Pfizer announcement that vaccine is safe for young kids
San Antonio Pediatric Pulmonologist reacts to Pfizer announcement that vaccine is safe for young kids

Children ages 5 to 11 could be eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before Thanksgiving this year.

The Food and Drug Administration will consider Pfizer’s vaccine for kids that age in just a couple of weeks. And if it gets FDA emergency use authorization and then recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, experts say some children 5-11 could be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving.

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Here are the five things parents should know as this process moves forward:

1. Timing

An FDA panel is scheduled to meet Oct. 26 to go over the data.

With Pfizer’s vaccine for adults, it took a little more than three weeks from EUA application to FDA authorization, CDC recommendation and finally shots in arms.

The same steps need to happen here, so applying that timeline, approval could come at the end of October.

2. There’s a dosage difference

Kids in this age group would likely get one-third of the dose adults and teens get. But indications are it’ll protect kids just as well, even if they’re big for their age.

3. Side effects

Experts say the side effects are similar to what happens to adults: A sore arm, tiredness or headaches.

4. White House says it’s ready

“We have the supply, we’re working with states to set up convenient locations including pediatricians’ offices and community sites,” said Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator.

5. State requirements

Could more states require COVID-19 vaccines for students? The U.S. surgeon general thinks so.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. surgeon general, said, “I think part of the reason you’re going to see more states likely move in that direction post-authorization is because we all want our kids to go back to school, to be able to stay in school, and to be safe.”